Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hubble, bubble

We went to see Macbeth on Saturday at the new theatre in Stratford. Stratford looked just like it used to on bank holidays when we used to go on charabanc trips; not an inch to spare on the grass by the river; people having picnics and kids with ice cream all over their clothes and faces. I know that's how they used to look because I have been searching out old photos to use as inspiration for my paintings. Mind you that world was black and white then, Stratford on Saturday was a blaze of colour.

I loved the play. I have seen it many times before, of course, but I just got carried away by the whole theatre experience on Saturday. Stewart who "did" Macbeth for O level told me they had missed chunks out and fiddled around with the beginning. I am glad I wasn't so "au fait" and hope Shakespeare would have relished my innocent enjoyment rather than the scepticism of the scholar.

They have restored the new theatre along the lines of the 16th century model, ie all tiered and tall, and the stage is in the round with four aisles leading from the auditorium to the exits. Being a disabled bod I was right on the edge of one of these aisles and had actors tearing around, up and down alongside me, breathing down my neck in fact. It did make me wonder if when they were in the aisles, were they still Macbeth or McDuff or were they anxious actors getting ready to be in the next right place at the next right time. When did they stop acting or that bit of acting when they are actually in character?

Yesterday at Aiobheann's funeral, there was a lot of acting going on I guess. People putting on brave faces. I held it together until Ceri from over the road stumbled tearfully but successfully through a poem. I wept and it was not just for Aiobheann. Lots of lovely things were said about her and that wasn't an act. People kept saying how well I looked and so my act was paying off under the thick stage make-up I metaphorically wear. I wear it to dim sum with my niece; awesome crystal scallops, I tell her I am not afraid and at the moment I am not. I wear it to Easter Sunday outings with my nearest and dearest and indeed I wear it to Stratford, carried with me in my own version of the charabanc trip.

At the funeral one of my caps fell out. What I didn't tell you about Macbeth was that the witches weren't witches but ghostly fay children. I quite liked this as it seemed to follow a theme of the whole play. But if the directors change their minds and decide to go back to the original idea well here I am ready and waiting, toothless and witch like, and no make up required.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Just being normal

It's nice, we go shopping; we meet friends, we do the garden. I chop vegetables. We are almost normal. Okay I have to be winched if want to move out of bed, I have to sit where I am put and we can't do anything until the nurses have been but just living is OK, fantastic in fact and definitely, at the moment, better than the alternative.

Tomorrow we look after Harry for the day, another sign of normality, I will bake with him and make Easter goodies and paint with him and he might go and help his Grandad in the garden. Stewart has brought all the nice stuff up from the bottom of our garden, the urns, the big black model flamingos and pots galore filled with Spring. I can see them all from my bed. We open the French windows as the weather is so good and I sit out in the sun for part of my time out of bed allowance. It is simply heaven or as close to it as I will ever get.

And I think I have found my oeuvre! I am working on style, it is likely to be just that, stylised based on the patterns and shapes in things rather than attempting realism; and for subject matter I am going to try and paint some pictures based on incidental moments in my life. I have enjoyed writing about these from time to time on this blog so will see if I can paint a few. I will be scouring through all the old photos and thanking goodness for my Dad's photography passion, although when I was a little girl it drove me mad, all that waiting around posing while he fiddled with light metres and bellowed at me.

We will see how far I get and how much time my lovely normal life allows me to try to make images of my past.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Smiling through in pictures- my birthday

Some pictures of happiness, grandsons and birthdays.

Charlie with his Grandad and Max with his Nan

Charlie and Max, the most beautiful babies in the world!

Julie and me with a handful

Danny and his Nan are pleased with themselves!

Danny shows off Harry's pirate picture

Julie and Max

Monday, April 11, 2011

Birthday fat arty farty girl

Well I've made it to 62 and as Harry said yesterday, that's nearly 100. We started the celebrations on Friday night, when the twins arrived with their Mom and Dad and Jess and her brood came round for a Trainor type sumptuous feast. It was then one big blur of eating and visits and lovely smiles from twins. Max smiles at you as if you are the most wonderful thing in his life, Charlie as if you are the funniest. They are the most beautiful babies in the world and Sam and Julie are like the cats who got the cream, loving every moment. It is a joy to behold. The best birthday present of the lot; that and when Danny and Harry look at their two little cousins as if they were their most precious gifts as well.

As for the food; we took in lunch at lovely brother and sister-in laws on Saturday, afternoon tea with proper scones, clotted cream and cucumber sandwiches back at ours with friends and family. A massive brunch of kedgeree and bacon and eggs on Sunday, the actual anniversary, shared with all my lovely grandsons, followed swiftly by Julie's delicious lemon tart and lime and coriander truffles made by Diana, Harry and Danny's other Nanny. Talk about an extended family. Finale was posh meals on wheels (ginger chicken and marmalade bread and butter pudding brought over by Chris and Denise in the evening, we sang as we ate, don't know why, we often do!

Apart from the gourmet fare the other major theme, was painting and I had all sorts of art materials`as gifts. All very challenging and technical. So I will start my 63rd year, stuffed to the gunnels with food and love and with bright ambitions about finding my oeuvre and creating something worth keeping.

I have an awful lot worth keeping.

Friday, April 8, 2011


I had to look her name up. I had to look it up every year for the Christmas card, or if I was rushed I would just write to the Butlers from the Trainors. It's a beautiful Irish name, pronounced Eevan. We had it as a question in the New Year quiz one year, her husband, Graham always did the quiz. Aoibheann lived on our road, she always asked how you were, she always cared about the answer.

There have been two cancer stories up our street for the past few months, mine and Aoibheann's. We have sat in our various rooms, feared our fears, bristled our will, taken our medicine. We have just missed each other in our sojourns on the Cancer wards. We have asked after each other and felt our singular sort of empathy.

Aoibheann's story ended yesterday. She had it in her throat, they got it out eventually after bombarding her body and spirit with particularly poisonous chemicals and deadly radio waves, each of which affected her terribly. Finally a viscous sweep of her throat got rid of the cells. She was clear but some delicate thread was cut, she just went to bed for a rest and died. She was on the path to survival but somehow it didn't happen

Our road, which is full of old and new friends who look out for each other, feels damaged, chipped, cracked.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Legs eleven

Right from the start of this cancer marathon, it's been my legs that have told the story. It started you will recall, three years ago now, with me noticing that one leg was fatter than the other; shunted me into a sidetrack where the blinkered NHS saw the only likely cause as a DVT despite the fact the leg continued to expand and then thanks to the French the cancer was discovered right up in the vein in aforementioned fat leg. Once the vein was out the leg continued to be "my fat leg" it got lymphoedema and I had to wear sexy thick compression stockings. I got by though. I could walk and that helped.

Since the paralysis set in a couple of months ago the poor old legs have had another story to tell. For a start they are all floppy and I can't control them at all, or feel them in the slightest for that matter. And because they aren't being moved and I spend my time perched up above them, they are apt to swell to enormous proportions given half a chance.

Well that was the story they were telling until a week ago, but no more! A transformation has taken place. An angel in the guise of a specialist lymphoedema nurse walked into my life and after just four visits I have legs that are almost normal. There they were bloated and literally weeping. Stewart had to heave them in and out of the hoist; we had to pad the wheelchair so that they didn't bruise from being squeezed into the bars; they were probably the ugliest legs on the planet. Then in walks Jane and after she binds them up for a few days in Michelin man type bandages and fits new compression hosiery, I have legs I can almost be proud of; can take out and show to the public in fact.

I did in fact take them out on Saturday, neatly tipped in crocs sandles, and I haven't worn shoes for months; when our friends Mike and Mary from Galway (well actually Mary is from up the road from where I'm from and Mike round the corner from where Stewart lived, but they live in Galway now) took us out for a meal of soup, posh fish and chips and rice pudding. Just what the doctor ordered and my legs and the rest of me filled our boots!

Talking of legs, please will you sponsor my friend, Diana's legs to run a lot of miles in aid of cancer research. She is doing it in my name in the Race for Life. I have added details of how to sponsor her in the column on the right. She is also Harry and Danny's other nanny and like them has a fine pair of pins I am sure.